Chai Pani: A Fusion Feast Where Indian Food Meets the American South

At Chai Pani, Irani Seamlessly Blends the Best of India and the American South

Meherwan Irani’s culinary journey began when he moved from India to America for graduate school. He was disappointed by the generic buffets that dominated South Asian restaurants, so far from what he ate at home. Determined to bring the real taste of Indian cuisine to the American palate, he opened the first Chai Pani restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina, in 2009.

The Idea

The phrase “Chai Pani” holds significance in Indian culture beyond its literal translation. It symbolizes the warm hospitality and welcoming nature of Indian culture, where offering someone “chai pani” in a social setting means extending hospitality towards them and is often accompanied by engaging conversations and bonding.

The Cuisine

The Cuisine

With his innovative approach to blending Indian and Southern American flavors, Chef Merherwan Irani created unique and mouth-watering dishes that challenged the status quo. One such standout creation is the irresistible okra fries seasoned with punchy chaat masala and a spritz of zesty lime. It’s certainly a clever twist on a Southern favorite, “fries.” However, what sets Chai Pani apart is not just the exceptional food but also the warm and welcoming atmosphere cultivated by Meherwan Irani and his wife, Molly. The restaurant doesn’t just offer authentic Indian taste but also embodies the essence of Indian hospitality. Inspired by the Indian concept of “Atithi Devo Bhava” (the guest is god), they prioritize the well-being and comfort of their customers. It’s not just a restaurant—it’s a gathering spot where people from all walks of life come together to share a meal and create lasting memories.

Other Ventures

Beyond the restaurants, Meherwan Irani’s influence extends to Spicewalla, his spice company that has over 250 fresh and high-quality spices. Spicewalla allows home cooks across the country to infuse their dishes with authentic Indian flavors. The recognition of Chef Irani’s efforts reached new heights in 2022 when Chai Pani Asheville received the prestigious James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant.

This Garlic & Honey Shrimp Recipe Is a Must-Try

In 20 minute you can prepare honey garlic shrimp. Yes, it is that quick and incredibly simple to prepare. The end result is a gastronomical adventure. You can serve this delicious dish with veggies and brown rice or simply toss it on a salad. The best part is that this dish is also a healthy one. So, read on and learn this recipe to make this dish a part of your regular meal.


1/3 cup of honey 1/4 cup of soy sauce 2 garlic cloves (finely minced) 1 tsp minced ginger (optional) 1 lb medium of uncooked shrimp (peeled and deveined) 2 tsp of olive oil Green onion chopped (for garnish but optional)


Step 1

Take a medium sized bowl and add soy sauce, honey, ginger (if you are using) and garlic. Whisk it nicely. You will be using half this mixture for the marinade that will take place in the next step while the other half will be used for cooking all the shrimps.

Step 2

Place the shrimps in a huge sealable container or even a zipped-top bag. Pour half the marinade on top and give it a good shake or you could even stir it. Keep the entire container or bag inside the refrigerator and let all the shrimp marinate for about 15 minutes. You could also let it stay for about 8-12 hours. Stow away the other half of the marinate mixture in the refrigerator. If you want to save some time, you can steam some broccoli and also microwave some brown rice as the shrimps are marinating.

Step 3

On a medium-high flame, heat some olive oil using a skillet. Remove the shrimps from the refrigerator and put them on the skillet. One the shrimps have turned pink on one side, flip them. Close to 45 seconds on either side should be enough. Take the other half of the marinade that you had refrigerate separately and pour it in. Cook it for another 1-2 minutes until the shrimps are cooked through.

Step 4

Garnish some green onion on this dish and it is ready to be served.